PASCIAK: JUUL can do more to fight underage usage

Though the company has tried to make changes after coming under scrutiny from the FDA, it’s clear that more should be done

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JUUL is still continuing with sales of their mint flavored pods — one of their most popular flavors among younger people — at retail stores.

Andrew Walsh | Cavalier Daily

Recently, JUUL announced that they would temporarily stop selling flavored e-cigarette juice pods in numerous retail locations, after increased pressure from the Food and Drug Administration. The restrictions come in an effort to restrict the usage of underage nicotine usage, as Juul is incredibly popular among high school and college aged students. The decision to restrict flavored JUUL pods is a good step in helping to combat the increased underage usage of nicotine, although more should be done in terms of restricting other flavors of pods popular among teens. 

JUUL was initially founded in order to help reduce the usage of cigarettes, and to help smokers switch to a healthier option. Their mission, as advertised on their website, is to “Improve the lives of the world’s one billion adult smokers.” This mission makes combating underage usage more difficult, as JUUL searched for a way to stop underage usage while still offering smokers a healthier alternative to cigarettes. So, JUUL chose to restrict the sale of the flavored pods — mango, cucumber, creme and fruit — which typically appeal to teens. On Nov. 13, the company announced that they had “stopped accepting retail orders for our Mango, Fruit, Creme, and Cucumber JUUL pods to the over 90,000 retail stores that sell our product.” The company will, however, continue selling flavored pods in stores that typically require identification for entrance, such as vape shops and similar stores. 

This decision by JUUL is a step forward in the desire to end underage nicotine addiction. Currently, thousands of stores throughout the country sell JUUL products, providing teens easy access to numerous fruity flavors of pods that contain about as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes. JUUL taking these flavored pods out of convenience stores will help to take this accessibility away from teens, which is just the first step in decreasing this underage nicotine epidemic. For now, JUUL is planning on only selling these four flavored pods on their website, which has strict measures to ensure that the customer is 21 years old. Moreover, JUUL, in order to make sure that users are not just buying in bulk to sell to other customers not yet over 21, restricts customers to 15 packages of pods per month, and will not allow for the completion of a transaction if a customer exceeds this amount.

In the future, JUUL is willing to work with retail stores who follow their new Restricted Distribution System, which includes requiring the scanning of a customer’s ID in order to verify their age before a purchase can be made. Customers would also need to be limited on the quantity of devices and pods in which they could buy.   

The measures JUUL is taking against underage usage of their products are good steps towards ending the prevalence of nicotine products among high schoolers throughout the country. Moreover, it is clear that the company has taken many things into consideration while figuring out what steps it was going to take and about the future of the company. However, more can and should be done in order to really combat underage consumption of nicotine products. 

JUUL is still continuing with sales of their mint flavored pods — one of their most popular flavors among younger people — at retail stores. Of course, JUUL runs into an issue here in terms of somehow managing the prevalence of underage usage and still attempting to fulfill its original mission of helping current smokers. However, the popularity of mint pods among young people cannot be ignored, especially if JUUL is going to pride itself on the steps it is taking to reduce underage consumption. 

If JUUL is going to really work towards ending the renewed epidemic of underage nicotine addiction — which it has helped create — they need to further look at the popularity of mint pods among young people and work towards restricting the sales of these at convenience stores as well. JUUL still offers three other non-flavored pods besides mint — Virginia Tobacco, Classic Tobacco, and Menthol — which could still appeal to the demographic of current smokers looking to switch to e-cigarettes, as they are used to the tastes after years of smoking cigarettes. Doing this would help JUUL fight this epidemic of underage usage of their products, while still having the ability to fulfill the company’s purpose.

JUUL definitely needs to do more in the fight against underage nicotine addiction. However, restricting access to the some of the most popular flavors of pods used by underage consumers is still a definite step in the right direction, and it is a step that those working towards limiting the epidemic of underage nicotine addiction should celebrate.  

Zach Pasciak is a Viewpoint Writer for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at opinion@cavalierdaily.com.

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